Fabulous Food and Drink at Vegas Uncork’d 2009

All this week, over at Daily Blender, I’ve been recapping my experience at last weekend’s Vegas Uncork’d event. The lineup of chefs was simply outrageous, with everyone from Bobby Flay to Joël Robuchon making an appearance. Events included a champagne toast to swith Bon Appetit Editor in Chief Barbara Fairchild alongside Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Master Series Dinners with François Payard, Bradley Ogden, and Guy Savoy, Culinary Conversations, Celebrity Chef Blackjack, and a Mother’s Day Brunch with Top Chef host Tom Colicchio.

While I’ve had at the chance to briefly touch on some of my favorite events, such as the Cocktails and Cuisine panel where guests learned to make six cocktails in two hours, I haven’t touched much on the food – and let me just say that I was wowed at every event!

My personal itinerary started off with a pasta making session at MGM Grand’s FiAMMA. After Executive Chef Carlos Buscaglia demonstrated the making of gnocchi with sauteed lobster and a black truffle crema, as well as a short rib raviolini, guests had the chance to dine on the tasty morsels along with a fabulous selection of wines.

Farm to Table at Vegas Uncork'd

Friday night melted into Saturday morning after the Cocktails and Cuisine event with master mixologists Steve Olson and Tony Abou-Ganim. Early Saturday morning, I had a chance to listen in as Bellagio’s Executive Chef Edmund Wong discussed sustainability and the use of locally produced food stuffs with chefs Rick Moonen, Bradley Ogden, and recent James Beard Regional Award winner Paul Bartolotta. Wong created a light dish of feta cheese, cured tomato, eggplant, and spring vegetable salad for panel guests, presented with small bites of boneless pork rib in a citrus glaze.

Sure, Friday night’s Grand Tasting was the pièce de résistance of the weekend, but what I loved was the Ultimate All-Star Interactive Luncheon on Saturday, where five of the top chefs in the industry taught guests how to make each course, with a cooking station at each table. Hosted by super businesswoman Elaine Wynn, the dishes presented by master chefs Daniel Boulud, Marc Poidevin, Alessandro Stratta, and Paul Bartolotta included chilled lobster with spring vegetable crudités, sauteed sea scallops with porcini mushrooms, spring gnocchi with peas and prosciutto, and marinated squab breast with couscous. My favorite course, of course, was dessert, created by Wynn/Encore’s pastry chef, Frédéric Robert. The strawberry vacherin was outstanding – light and flavorful, and a great use of the recently-in-season fresh strawberries.

Overall, a weekend of heavenly food and drink! It’s a shame I have to wait a year for the next Vegas Uncork’d!